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Local News in Brief : Complaints of Gassy Odor

A small leak of a very powerful odorant from the Chevron refinery in El Segundo Friday drifted into the surrounding community, causing some complaints from those caught downwind, said Chief Gary Chandler of the El Segundo Fire Department.

The leaked odorant, mercaptan, is not harmful and there were no injuries, Chandler said.

Mercaptan is put into odorless natural gas to give it the distinctive smell that serves as a warning in case of a leak, said Rod Spackman, a Chevron spokesman.

He said the 1:15 p.m. leak occurred as a result of a failed seal in a water line in which a small amount of mercaptan was carried. By 1:45 the pump was secured and by 3 p.m. the area had been cleaned up with bleach, which oxidizes the mercaptan, Spackman said.

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William Tinsman, an inspector for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, also described the chemical as not harmful.

“We feel unfortunate about it,” Spackman said. “We don’t like to put odors in the community.”


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